EXCLUSIVE: PEN America is set to honor Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, the writing duo behind the forthcoming award season film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and the creative team behind the Netflix series Unbelievable at its 2019 LitFest Gala, which will take place on November 1 at the Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles.
Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster will receive the Award for Screenplay Excellence for the Mr. Rogers biopic while the Award for Television Excellence will go to the Unbelievable team which includes Showrunner/Writer/Director/Executive Producer Susannah Grant, Writer/Executive Producer Michael Chabon, Writer/Executive Producer Ayelet Waldman, and Executive Producer Sarah Timberman (on behalf of Timberman and her producing partner Carl Beverly).
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In addition, actor and Reading Rainbow icon LeVar Burton will deliver a tribute to the legendary Toni Morrison a long-time PEN America winner and Nobel Prize winner. She will be recognized for her unparalleled contributions to literature, culture, and the impact of her work.
“We are so grateful that we have the opportunity to recognize such tremendous talent at this year’s LitFest Gala, champions of free expression who have inspired and created some of the year’s most memorable shows, films, songs, and news stories. We know it is going to be an unforgettable night,” said Michelle Franke, executive director of PEN America’s Los Angeles office. “We also recognize that we are indebted to those who paved the way for us, and are looking forward to honoring the life and work of Toni Morrison.”
As previously announced, filmmaker Ava DuVernay will receive the Voice of Influence Award, songwriter Diane Warren will receive the Artistic Expression Award, and attorney Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. will receive the PEN America Distinguished Leadership Award.
PEN America’s LitFest Gala is now in its 29th year. It is a celebration of free expression and the literary arts. Past honorees and participants include Ai Weiwei, Marti Noxon & Gillian Flynn, Barry Jenkins, Roxane Gay, Isabel Allende, Jose Antonio Vargas, Margaret Atwood, Janet Mock, Norman Lear, Guillermo del Toro, Amber Tamblyn, Aisha Tyler, Amy Poehler and Cecile Richards.